Doom metal is booming like cocaine was during the 1970’s. The number of bands releasing new music or emerging on the scene during 2016 has been tremendous. The characteristic slow, heavy, and dark sound that Black Sabbath created in 1970, and was later perpetuated by bands like Candlemass and Cathedral, lives on, probably stronger than it has been in quite some time.
Hailing from Italy, Messa calls their music style ‘scarlet doom‘. I would describe it in more common terms as progressive fusion doom, and Belfry is their first album. It was released earlier this year but I only came to know about a couple of months ago through surfing Bandcamp for new music. Yep, these guys sell their music through their Bandcamp page, a great window for new bands to get their stuff out there.
Belfry is not a traditional doom metal album, it combines many elements and has a novel approach to the genre. Some tracks are purely ambient noise, full of a literal doom-ish atmosphere that feels taken right out of a classic Hammer film, and other songs take a more traditional doom approach. Not to mention the female silk-like vocals which turn out surprisingly impressive and fit the music perfectly. This wide variety of elements, along with some bold decisions from the band, makes for an immensely interesting and entertaining listen. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill doom album release.
Messa does what not many bands are brave enough to do, produce inventive and personable music. They take a lot of risky choices in Belfry, especially for a debut album. The first track, “Alba”, is 4:35 minutes of pure drone ambient noise, at first listen disconcerting but upon further examination when listening to the album as a whole several times, the thing just works as a perfect intro for the experience this album is. Another bold example is the last track, “Confess”, an acoustic-guitar-and-vocals only piece that sounds more like 70’s prog-rock than anything else.
On the other hand, when they decide to do the traditional rock/doom approach (which they do a few times here), Messa hits the ball right out of the park like on the masterful track “Hour of the Wolf”. A 7:19-minute Black Sabbath-love letter of a song that easily tops my 2016 best songs of the year list. The chorus is catchy, the thick riffs perfect, the lyrics dark and Sara‘s vocals beautiful while she blames demons for hunting her.
Belfry is such an amazing and complex album full of delightful twists and turns. From all the other good doom metal releases this year that I have enjoyed (Spiritus Mortis – The Year Is One, Khemmis – Hunted), Messa‘s Belfry certainly takes the crown. The album has the perfect balance between different styles: ambient, dark, blues, rock, jazz, and doom metal. And it deserves a lot more ears on it. Do not hesitate, give it a shot, support this great band right now at their Bandcamp site where you can stream (and then buy) the entire album and find out for yourself what a masterpiece this is!
04. Hour of the Wolf
07. New Horns
08. Bell Tower
Mark Sade – guitar, bass, ambient music
Sara – vocals
Mistyr – drums
Albert – lead guitar
***Eduardo de Fuentes is a staff writer with the Sleaze Roxx website. He is graciously on loan from our friends over there to provide this review for Decibel Geek. You can also follow Eduardo through his personal blog here: https://www.eduardodefuentes.com/blog/